This cosmic object was central to the first image of the Milky Way’s black hole

extreme class of a cosmic body called a plazaar It easily eclipses countless stars around it, and helps provide the first-ever image of the heart of the Milky Way.

When event horizon telescope (EHT) team members coordinated arrays of radio dishes across the Earth to create The first image of a central and supermassive black hole in the Milky Way Arch A*, they switched back and forth at five-minute intervals between this giant and the Blazar. This went on for hours at a time.

In order to achieve what will eventually become a file The major science highlight of 2022EHT collaborators had to determine whether what they saw in Sagittarius A* in April 2017 were actual cosmic phenomena or the product of hardware hiccups.

To this end, the scientists calibrated their instruments with a little help from the bright, steady nature of the blazar, and used them as a kind of cosmic sunflower test. With a nice touch, this blazar is now in the spotlight as well. Observational astronomer, NASA Einstein Fellow, and EHT collaborator Sarah Issaoun drove a study About the blazar, published in August in Astrophysical Journal.

EHT produced the main image Sagittarius A* by piecing together an average of thousands of images, retaining common details and suppressing those that appear infrequently. A large number of images can be grouped into four groups based on similar features. An average representative image of each of the four groups is shown in the bottom row. Handout / Getty Images News / Getty Images

Here’s the background – The practical blazer is called J1924–2914. It is far, albeit prominent, active galactic nucleus. It contains a supermassive black hole that, like all other types, is too heavy for light to escape its grasp.

But the material about J1924-2914 is incredibly luminous, and Goliath whips it wildly. The chaos heats up and produces a great deal of light, powerful and compact enough to help astronomers bring the supermassive black hole much closer to its home in the center of our galaxy.

All this activity means that J1924–2914 fits neatly into the standard definition of a quasar. But it’s a variation on one, boasting an extra special detail. It’s called a Blazar because the black hole emits a powerful, narrow jet that blasts outward in a direction close to our line of sight.

What did they do – Astronomers have gotten a better look at this object than ever before, by combining EHT observations with those made a few days ago with International Millimeter Range VLBI Two weeks later by Too long base array.

They achieved the strongest investigation of this active galactic nucleus to date by staring at Blazar across many wavelengths and across many spatial orders of magnitude, which can be achieved via these radio observatories. “We’re really able to see far into the plane, and then very close to the black hole, at the same time,” Esson says, calling the work “exciting.”

what they found – The study confirmed that the Blazar jet is somewhat similar to a garden hose.

They found that the curvature did not change over time. “This was interesting because it told us that the jet structure is very similar to the helical structure [helix-like] jet,” Issaoun says.

There are a few scenarios that might cause this, such as a strange shape of the black hole’s magnetic field. In the brightest part of Blazar, where Issaoun’s team thinks the supermassive black hole is hiding, they took polarization observations that indicate the magnetic field is distorted into a toroidal shape. (You can make this shape at home easily, by taking a hair tie or an elastic loop in both hands and twisting one side.)

“EHT accurately monitors the highest angle and the highest frequency ever used in such observations. Both aspects are very important,” Maciek Wielgusan astrophysicist and study co-researcher, says inverse.

“It allows us to see in detail closer to the central motor, or core, than we could have done before. The EHT’s decision corresponds to reading a newspaper in a New York newsstand all the way from London (not just the article title!),” he says, Adding that the increased resolution is supported by the transparency of the jets of radiation at higher frequencies, allowing astronomers to dig deeper into the system.

The Radio Galactic Center NGC 5128 is a well-studied active galactic nucleus. It is one of the brightest galaxies in the night sky, located in the constellation Centaurus. Laurend Fiennes / Stocktrek Images / Stocktrek Images / Getty Images

What’s Next – “We would like to be able to monitor this source for a longer period of time,” Wilgus says. He says a picture of it every week for more than a month could reveal more about the black hole’s dynamics and how fast it is moving. “And we’d like to look at things that are more similar to EHT, so we can study the characteristics of an entire population.”

Issaoun also wants to see the evolution of the curved plane over time. Future work could use several radio telescopes across many frequencies to paint a clearer picture.

For now, the team has their guesses. One idea, Esson says, is that it could be a binary black hole. Another possibility is that the accretion disk is tilted relative to the black hole, forming the shape of the hose.

why does it matter – Astronomers are interested in blazars because they are harsh environments. The brightness is able to transmit billions of light years to us. “We can learn about the history of the universe in this way, kind of cosmic archaeology,” Wilgus says.

If it’s bright enough to grab our attention, it’s worth giving it a space in the scientific literature to shine.